Dame Sally Davies, United Kingdom’s chief medical officer issued a warning about the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea and it becoming resistant to penicillin. This evolution of the STD could be delayed if doctors prescribe drugs correctly. This warning was issued because of evidence that physicians are not currently prescribing the correct medicines, at least not every time.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium responsible for the disease of gonorrhea, has a history of developing a resistance to antibiotics. In the past there were several variations of treatments that were effective but that list is growing ever shorter.
A drug resistant strain was reported in Leeds in March of this year and quickly spread to other north-England towns. Currently the recommended treatment for gonorrhea is the combination of ceftriaxone injection and an oral dose of azithromycin or doxycycline. This combination of different antibiotics is currently the most effective way of killing the bacterium. While taking just one of the antibiotics, may be effective in treating the disease it opens the possibility of it becoming resistant to antibiotics. H041, an untreatable strain of gonorrhea was identified in 2009. While only one case of H041 was reported two other strains of multidrug-resistant strains have been published.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV were concerned to discover that doctors and online pharmacies were prescribing obsolete treatments or azithromycin as as stand alone treatment.
Gonorrhea seems to be surging because of a couple of factors including resistance to treatment and increased opportunities for transmission. As the treatment for the headline STD such as HIV have become more advanced, it seems the scrutiny for “safe sex” has diminished. Other STDs such as syphilis and chlamydia are increasing along with gonorrhea, particularly among young people who may not remember the AIDS epidemic.
Creating more concern about the impedance of condom use is the announcement that Truvada can prevent infection of HIV when used as a “morning after” treatment. While these concerns can be debated, any decreased perceived threat could result in more promiscuous behavior.
Gonorrhea can go symptomless by the carrier but still transmittable. Symptoms can include yellow or green discharge, painful urination and bleeding between periods for women. Generally speaking, treatment is most effective earlier and potential serious, long-term effects are reduced. Several easily accessible resources exist such as online ordering of STD testing.